We welcome Dominic Couzens, naturalist, trip leader and author of nearly 30 wildlife books. Dominic comes highly recommended and will tell us all about his family’s unusual quest; – to see as many species of British mammals as possible in a single year (no mean feat with a three and five year old in tow!) Where did they go? What did they see? Do come along and find out and bring your friends to what promises to be an amusing and informative night out.
Doors open 30 minutes before the start of talk. Entrance fees: Members £2, non members £3, children under 16 free. Light refreshments, Raffle.
A talk about the Seabirds of Skokholm on Thursday 9th November at Froyle Village Hall.
The island of Skokholm off the south west coast of Wales is of international importance for its breeding seabirds including Manx shearwater, storm petrel and puffin. Local enthusiast Alan Wynde will entertain us with a talk entitled ‘Skokholm: Men, Goats and Birds, but mainly Birds’.
Starting at 7.30pm, doors open from 7pm, entrance fee £2 members £3 non members, all welcome.
Join us for our brief AGM at 7pm followed by a talk entitled ‘The Harvest Mouse around Selborne –in search of an iconic farmland species’. There will also be a display showing some of the local wildlife seen in Froyle and an update of this year’s events. All welcome and drinks and nibbles will be available during the evening.
Our interesting speaker Dr Francesca Pella aims to help the conservation of Harvest Mice, a species first described by Gilbert White. Francesca will tell the story of how the Selborne Farm Cluster set about surveying for this tiny and seldom seen mammal (Europe’s smallest rodent) with only one official record in Hampshire in 1999 to go on. Do come along and find out what happened next …
The talk will start at 7.30pm and Froyle Village Hall doors open from 6:30pm, entrance fee £2 members £3 non members, raffle, refreshments available.
Background about the talk: In 2014 the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) arranged an initial meeting in Selborne with a small group of key stakeholders, in order to discuss the creation of a farmer cluster. Soon this initiative incorporated other local stakeholders and the group was named the “Selborne Landscape Partnership”. The Harvest Mouse (Micromys minutus, Pallas 1771) Monitoring Initiative is one of the first outcomes of this partnership, which involves local farmers, the South Downs National Park, the GWCT, the Wildlife Trust, volunteers and others. Before the survey began, only one old record (1999) was known in the Hampshire records centre. Since 2014, 28 squares of the 91 square-km around Selborne have been surveyed and over 400 Harvest Mouse nests have been found.
The aim is to survey the majority of squares and to continue to collect habitat data that is suitable for publication and the creation of improved habitat management plans for the better conservation of the Harvest Mouse, which started its scientific beginnings with its first description by Gilbert White in Selborne.
The nests of Harvest Mouse have also been found in Froyle in November 2016 along grassy field margins between the hedgerow and crop.
Update after the talk: Zoologist Dr Francesca Pella gave an enthusiastic talk about her work on Harvest Mice in Selborne. First recorded by Gilbert White in 1767, the good news is that 11 local farmers around Selborne covering 10,000 acres are now working to improve habitats for key species including the harvest mouse. The concern is that harvest mice numbers are declining nationally and the species is considered rare. Fortunately in the recent Selborne study over 400 nests were recorded in the two years 2014/5.
Their latin name is micromys minutus, or ‘smallest mouse’, which is apt as it is the smallest rodent in Europe, with a head and body length of 5-8cm and typically weighing 4-6g. It is the only British mammal to have a prehensile tail able to grasp plant stems as they move through long vegetation. They have a reddish-brown coat, a white underside, short hairy ears and a much blunter nose than other mice. They are active day and night and they do not hibernate, but spend much of the Winter underground to keep warm and dry. Despite this Winter mortality is thought to be as high as 90%. Their life span is typically 6 months, the oldest having been recorded at 18 months. Their range is about 400sq m and the adults are seldom seen.
Harvest mice appear to be residents of Froyle. In a small survey last year 9 harvest mouse nests were found in one area, and 15 in another. This does not necessarily suggest a sizeable population as a single mouse can create 4 or 5 ‘resting’ nests.
Family fun –join us for a 1h dipping session on Sunday 20th August to see what underwater creatures we can find in the new wildlife pond near Gid Lane, Froyle (see plan). Children will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult. All equipment will be provided and numbers are limited so it is essential to book by emailing email@example.com., stating preference for 1.30pm or 2.30pm session.
Dragonflies have already found the new habitat as well as pond skaters, water boatmen and whirligig beetles. Advice from wildlife pond experts is to let the pond colonise naturally over time. So please do not introduce any fish, aquatic species or pond plants because this could bring in diseases or potentially invasive non-native species.
Update: Some photos taken on the day and how it all went well.
On a breezy but sunny August day the new wildlife pond welcomed 19 children with their accompanying parents and grandparents. It was perfect weather for pond dipping and children and adults had lots of fun finding and identifying many interesting inhabitants of the pond. These included greater and lesser boatmen, juvenile ramshorn snails, damselfly nymphs and at least three different species of dragonfly nymph.
Sam, aged 3 remarked, ‘I liked catching all the different creatures’. And Joe, aged 6 said, ‘My favourite thing was catching a massive dragonfly nymph’. Frankie aged 6 said he absolutely loved it. Bea aged 11 said she thought it would be babyish but it wasn’t and she loved looking at the really tiny creatures under the microscope. Eryka said, ‘I’ve never been pond dipping before, it was so cool! I caught a waterboatman. I would like to do it again.’
It was a wonderfully fun and educational day and hopefully the first of many that Froyle Wildlife will hold in the future. Special thanks should go to the Froyle Parish Council who kindly paid for the pond dipping equipment.
Join us for a leisurely stroll (about 1 mile) around Bentley Station Meadow, 10.30am-12.00 on Saturday 29th July 2017. This SSSI is owned and managed by Butterfly Conservation and borders Alice Holt Forest – a large Ancient Semi Natural Woodland so many woodland species can be seen on the reserve. We expect to see the large and graceful Silver-washed Fritillary whose caterpillar foodplant is Common Dog-violet growing in shady or semi-shady positions.
Meet at the reserve entrance 10.30am or share lifts from Froyle Village Hall leaving at 10.15am. Please note that the date may be postponed at short notice if the weather forecast is unfavourable. Parking at Bentley Station, cross the railway line and walk 100m along the tarmac path to the reserve entrance.
All welcome on Sunday 25th June, 3-5pm to an opening event for the new wildlife pond and meadow near Gid Lane, Froyle. If arriving by car (see map), please park at Froyle Park which is about 400m from the pond.
Enjoy some refreshments courtesy of Froyle Park after 3pm and view information displays about the importance of fresh water habitats. Then walk down the Lime Avenue to the pond for the ‘ribbon cutting’ event at 4pm. See the wildflower meadow that surrounds ‘Froyle Park Pond’ and linger to observe what’s flying and flowering. Dragonflies have already found the new habitat and the wildflower seed sown last year is blooming. The pond area will then be open at all times to members of Froyle Wildlife and can also be seen from the adjacent public footpath. This project was funded by developer contributions through East Hampshire District Council and completed with the kind permission of Froyle Park Ltd.
Conditions of our access licence include visitors using only the stile for entry/exit (see plan) and no fires, BBQs or picnics. Advice from wildlife pond experts is to let the pond colonise naturally over time. So please do not introduce any fish, aquatic species or pond plants because this could bring in diseases or potentially invasive non-native species.
A talk on “Wildlife of the River Wey” by Glen Skelton, Thursday 27th April 2017, 7.30pm Froyle Village Hall.
Our rivers have been called ‘Nature’s Super Highway’. The talk will cover the North Wey describing the ingredients for a healthy river ecosystem. The wildlife species present on our local river depend on habitats including instream and the flood-plain. Current impacts such as pollution and invasive species can be partly offset by river restoration techniques. Glen Skelton has the experience of being involved with the Wey Landscape Partnership and Surrey Wildlife Trust.
Do come along and find out more about our river in Froyle and its wildlife, all welcome. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start, entrance £2, non members £3, children free, refreshments.
Update after the talk:-
Glen Skelton, from the Surrey Wildlife Trust, gave an interesting talk about rivers being ‘Nature’s Super Highways’ at the end of April. After rising from a chalk aquafer in Alton, the Northern branch of the River Wey flows through Upper Froyle, and Farnham before joining the South Wey at Tilford, and ultimately joins the River Thames. This chalk stream is an approximately 80km wildlife corridor. There are only around 200 chalk streams in the world and 85% of these are found in England, so we are fortunate to have the River Wey in Froyle. Coming from groundwater aquafers, the water is of high clarity and good chemical quality, making it precious for certain wildlife species, potentially supporting a rich flora and fauna. However, unfortunately man’s activities are having a detrimental effect on rivers including the Wey. Consequently volunteers, including those led by Glen, do restoration work with the aim of improving the biodiversity and health of the river, to enable them to function naturally.
A meandering river, as Nature intended, is an ideal situation. Where rivers are artificially straightened this effectively turns them into fast flowing drains with minimal wildlife opportunity. Some areas of the Wey, such as near Kings Pond, have had diverters placed to create meanders, allowing varying river water flow rates. A meander allows fish fry to develop at the slow inner bend, and fish such as Pike to live at the faster outer bend.
Well vegetated banks are used by small mammals, butterflies and damselflies for shelter and basking. Channels provide fish, such as the Bullhead or Miller’s Thumb, (a fish of international importance for conservation), with shelter from predators. Bank restoration has been carried out upstream from the watercress beds in Alton, removing trees and shrubs allowing light in, enabling the bankside vegetation to improve. In other areas bankside trees provide valuable perches for Kingfishers looking out for their next meal of fish or aquatic insect. In addition, caterpillars falling from tree leaves into the water provide food for fish.
There are many ‘riffle’ areas on the River Wey, where the water flows over the rough surface of a gravel bed. This enables oxygenation of the water, allowing fish eggs to develop and provides good habitat for aquatic invertebrates. This equates to the ‘larder’ of the river. Invertebrates include Freshwater shrimps, Banded damselfly and Dragonflies. Clean gravel beds also allow marginal plants to establish, which are important as cover for small fish, invertebrates and birds such as coots and moorhen.
Otters, the apex predators of the river, are tentatively recolonising our rivers, having died out in the 1970s through sheep dip pollution in rivers. However, the last sighting on the River Wey was 2 years ago near Frensham. Unfortunately, water voles are also currently not seen on the Wey, through habitat fragmentation and mink invasion. On a more positive note, harvest mice, that like wetlands, have been found near the Wey source at Alton.
There are opportunities for volunteer river conservation work through Glen, involving mapping, monitoring for possible water vole return, and restoration.
A talk on ‘Wildlife and Hedgerows’ by Jon Stokes, Thursday 16th March, 7.30pm Froyle Village Hall (doors open 7pm).
It’s surprising that the hedgerow network represents Britain’s largest nature reserve. Jon Stokes from the Tree Council will show us the importance of hedgerows and the how to improve them to boost their wildlife potential. Hedgerows adjacent to roads, green lanes, tracks and wooded ground tend to be particularly species-rich and can act as wildlife corridors.
All welcome, members £2, non members £3, children free, Refreshments.
This month we are delighted to welcome Dr Andy Barker of the charity ‘Butterfly Conservation’ www.butterfly-conservation.org/ as our first speaker of 2017. A talk on the Butterflies of Hampshire, Thursday 23rd Feb 2017 at 7.30pm, Froyle Village Hall (door open at 7pm).
There are 45 species of butterfly which can be seen in Hampshire and Andy will especially highlight those found in our local area (Froyle, East and North East Hampshire) and give us tips on identification. We’ll also hear of important habitats such as woodland, chalk downland and heathland which sustain many of the less common species. So forget the winter for a while, come along and be inspired to seek out some of these fascinating and sometimes elusive insects.
All welcome, members £2, non-members £3, children free, Refreshments